Posts in Category: 2020-June 6 Issue

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: MERCANTILE RESUMES PLANT SALES, SUPPLIES


Plant and shrub suppliers may not be going to hell in a handcart, an apt phrase derived from the dumping of the dead in carts during the plague in London in the 1600s, but they seem increasingly to be going to hemp growing, according to people close to the operations of the Village Mercantile. That means at a time when many more people are turning to gardening, a pandemic pastime on the rise, plants are harder not only to keep in stock, but harder to source.
“Hemp and hemp products are increasingly in demand,” said one gardener. “And they must be bringing in more revenue than tomato starts.”

“Business is booming in the garden center, especially as customers can walk around fairly safely and look at what we have,” a villager affirmed. “And right now, demand for geraniums is high,” especially as the La Paloma greenhouse of ARCA, once a local source of geraniums, was forced to close, due to N.M. Department of Health regulations. Its annual late April geranium sale was cancelled, so ARCA apparently gave away or tossed out many plants.

“The Merc was not even allowed to pick them up,” said a source with regret. Trees of Corrales recently delivered about 350 perennials to the Mercantile, including native plants. And a local grower said, “The garden center was slammed, immediately.” Color is prized, “to brighten up yards,” with plants such as impatiens, cosmos and zinnias favored. So are vegetable starts like lettuces, peppers, tomatoes and herbs, along with seeds.

Suppliers in Farmington, Las Cruces and Corrales grow and deliver most of the plants currently sold in the Mercantile, whose employees scramble to get products up, priced and on display before eager gardeners swoop in on them. But, at least gardeners can access much of what they need. Park your car, put on your mask and stroll, with appropriate distancing, through the outdoor garden center. Place your choices on the table near the door, call the store at 897-9328, give them your credit card information and then await delivery to your vehicle. Or, with more restrictions lifted, put on a mask and go inside. And should you need or want a comfortable mask, one that carries the Village Mercantile logo, and also contains an inner pocket for a filter, you can order one on the company website. The first batch sold out almost immediately.

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: MAYOR SENDS PRELIMINARY BUDGET UP FOR APPROVAL


As instructed by the N .M. Department of Finance and Administration in Santa Fe, Village officials have submitted the same preliminary municipal budget for the coming fiscal year as it has for this year. Village government’s projection for revenues during the fiscal year that starts July 1 is a repeat of that for FY 2019-2020 —despite the nationwide economic collapse in March-April.

Part of the rationale is expected financial relief from the federal government for local governments. The Village Council adopted a preliminary budget for FY 2020-21 at its May 26 session.

Revenues for Village government are projected at $5,368,050 for the general fund while expenditures were expected to be $5,103,878. That preliminary budget anticipates $3,051.255 in revenue from various kinds of gross receipts tax.

Presumably, the collapse of retail sales (which yield gross receipts tax) due to closures related to the coronavirus pandemic will have recovered by the time the new fiscal year gets under way.

Property tax paid to the Village is projected at $1,623,193 during FY 2020-21. The preliminary budget had to be submitted to Santa Fe by May 31. The final budget is due June 30.

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: COMMERCIAL ROUND UP; SOME BOOM, SOME BUST

The ups and downs and in and outs of Corrales businesses and owners is as fluid as ever, perhaps even more so given the pandemic. Some places are slowly reopening, under the latest guidelines from Governor Lujan Grisham. Others are moving largely online, at least for the foreseeable future.

A plan is under way to get signs reading “Mask Wearing Required for Entry” for Corrales businesses that request them. Fire Department Commander Tanya Lattin and Mayor Jo Anne Roake are working on the idea to help proprietors gain compliance among their customers for an action still in place throughout the state. The sign wording has not yet been finalized.

Del Rio Plaza at 4436 Corrales Road has lost at least two tenants in recent months, with Laura Balombini moving her Red Paint Studio out, and Karleen Talbott of Talbott Auctions “reconstructing my business without a retail store front.” To contact Talbott email talbott@talbottauctions.com.

Balombini has set up shop at her home, and recently participated in a project called Art Gone Viral, presented by Rio Grande Festivals. This essentially presented a lineup of artists, showing off their work online, and allowed sales as well as interaction with each one. http://www.riograndefestivals.com

As Balombini wrote, “Now that the gallery is empty, cleaned and closed, I settle back into my tiny studio work space in a garden shed in the back yard. Houses in New Mexico very seldom have basements or attics so storage space is at a premium. Luckily many collectors and friends purchased work on sale as I made videos as I was packing up the gallery… so less to store.”

For the time being Balombini does not plan to take on a new physical studio. As she put it, “This virus could have us in a muddle for quite a long time so planning anything long term is quite difficult and not prudent.” You can contact her regarding paintings and other works via redpaintstudio art@gmail. Her reimagined women’s clothing line is for sale on Etsy under Coraline’s Closet.

Repercussions of the pandemic’s sensible self-isolating dictates persuaded Denise Stramel and Keith Buderus, owners of the Corrales bed-and-breakfast, Chocolate Turtle, that “the hospitality business was not coming back any time soon,” and so they sold the building that was Chocolate Turtle to a private homeowner. They decided it was not sensible to “stay in business for another six years in order to make up for one lost year,” and so will move to Rio Rancho, close enough to stay involved in Corrales activities, including the Harvest Festival, still scheduled for September 26 and 27.

One thing the pandemic apparently has stimulated is an interest in cooking, although Jane Butel of Jane Butel Cooking Classes reports that she hasn't given a class since March 12. She did “go ahead with face masks for the barbecue class with only four participants, instead of two classes of 12 last year.” A July “Chiles and Chocolate” class has had a number of cancellations also, “but I have decided to go ahead and give it.” Butel says she “honors any class to be rescheduled with no fee.”

Even a long planned cooking and eating trip to Oaxaca, Mexico rescheduled for September 15-21 has taken a hit. “All ten of the Corrales people who signed up have cancelled, but I still have five people and maybe will get a few more,” said Butel. Contact her at 243-2622 or via info@janebutelcooking.com.

Another pursuit revved up in pandemic weeks is biking. Stevie Kuenzler of Stevie’s Happy Bikes took some time off after the recent deaths of his parents, but now is happy to tackle your broken down bike, or possibly even find you a reasonable replacement.

“My main focus now is on my family, on my own biking, and on helping people out as I can.” He says he is not intent on drumming up big business, and is enjoying time with his 12-year-old. And, he points out, due to the surge in biking, the biggest regional supplier of bike parts, based in Denver, is “completely sold out of everything.” All they stock is made in China.

However, working out of his home garage, Kuenzler says he still is well supplied with gear. All work must be done by appointment, all payments done in cash or by check. You can call or text him at 450-8366.

Pandemically homebound people also are looking around at their “stuff,” and wondering if grandmother’s old china cabinet is worth keeping, especially as grown children seem less interested in things than their elders were. Consignment shop Et Cetera’s owner Beth Salazar said she “couldn’t wait to reopen June 1” and had been sanitizing and cleaning for hours ahead of time. Located at 4514 Corrales Road, Et Cetera is now open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 10 a .m. to 3 p.m., with Wednesdays open by appointment only. Call 899-0287. Closed Sundays.

Prized Possessions’ jeweler Janet Pugh reports self-isolation has resulted in her damaging a tendon in her leg, but more positively, producing a major inventory of items, including 168 pairs of her button jewelry. “We were down to 50,” when COVID-19 hit. Pugh’s daughter Julie DeVault, with whom she runs the business, thinks a show like Downton Abbey is good for business, and that younger people do discover that Ikea furniture falls apart. “Some of them realize that one good piece is worth having.”

DeVault is sending out photos of new jewelry by Pugh, and also doing sales involving regular trips to the Corrales Post Office. “I wait in the car until the idiots with no masks leave,” she said, clearly irritated not only by that, but also by the lack of financial support for small businesses like theirs. “Fifty-two businesses owned by people I know in Albuquerque have closed, maybe forever.”

The “little loans” that do come in are high interest, according to DeVault, and prices charged small businesses for masks and hand sanitizers are higher than those for the big box stores. DeVault also reported Prized Possessions had been inundated with calls from scammers, with calls from supposed customers wanting major discounts, and such.

While the shop at 4534 Corrales Road may reopen this month, the notion of opening and then having to close down again with a resurgence of the virus is daunting. Both Pugh and DeVault are grateful for their regular customers, even those from out of state, however, and will continue to sell through the US Mail. Get in touch at 899-4800.

Eateries like Corrales Bistro are entertaining customers judiciously on their outdoor deck, while coffee people are now sitting outdoors imbibing at Candlestick’s Coffee Roasters, but Las Ristras Restaurant in that same location, at 4940 Corrales Road, thus far has shown no signs of reopening.

Alas, ExNovo reports the “amended patio order” laid out by the governor May 26 does not cover them, but still, Ex Novo Corrales celebrated its one year anniversary May 24, and is collaborating with a Brooklyn brewery to raise funding for beer industry types affected adversely by the pandemic. They remain open noon to 6 p.m. for beer pickup.

Corrales Bosque Gallery at 4685 Corrales Road in Mercado de Maya has revamped its online shop substantially. Take a look at https://corralesbosquegallery.com/store. Their website suggests a possible reopening after June 15. Thus far, its neighbor, Corrales Fine Arts, appears closed. Call 818-7919 for more info. Ambiente looks as if it is getting ready to reopen in the Mercado but no confirmation as yet.

Two large “For Sale” signs have gone up fairly recently, one in front of the former Kim Jew Photography studio building on Corrales Road, which had housed assorted small businesses in the past months. The name on the sign is Roger Cox and Associates, with Will Stribling noted as well. A new sign is in place where the former thrift shop sat, too.

A definite new business is installed where Coddiwomple once vended its wares. Coddiwomple’s Kristen Wilcox-Hatch said she sold much of her inventory to Circle Round, which now inhabits her former space. Coddiwomple is selling entirely online at https://coddiwompleshoppe.com or by phone at 897-8109.

Circle Round, opened on or about April 15 by a therapist who had worked with Wilcox-Hatch, then was hit by the pandemic, then reopened May 16. Timing is all. See http://www.circleroundnm.com/ Info via 897-7004. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: SWAINSON’S HAWKS HAVE HUNTED HERE FOR YEARS


The Swainson’s Hawk now residing in the Corrales Bosque Preserve was finally satisfied with tree-top real estate conditions here. As reported in a front-page article and photograph in May 9 issue, a Swainson’s Hawk has been documented as having nested in the Corrales bosque. Hawks Aloft Director Gail Garber said May 1 that “the most exciting thing just happened today: a large nest we have been watching for years now has a Swainson’s Hawk.

“That is the first documented Swainson’s Hawk that we’ve found in the Corrales Bosque. I’m super-excited about this.” It was spotted by Joan Hashimoto, a long-time Hawks Aloft collaborator. It is much larger than the more common Cooper’s Hawk. At least one other Corrales birder has captured excellent photos of Swainson’s Hawks here previously.

“I’ve never recognized a Swainson’s nest in the bosque, but I’ve seen the hawks every year multiple times since 2016,” Guy Clark told Corrales Comment May 17 after seeing the May 9 article and photo. He finds them to be beautiful birds. “Red Tailed Hawks have a fierce-looking face, but Swainson’s have beautiful faces.”  The large raptor Garber and Hashimoto saw has taken over a long-vacant, deteriorating nest at the top of a tree close to the levee. In weeks before, they had noticed that new sticks had been added to the old nest, so they were expecting a new occupant.

It’s at the top of a tall cottonwood where it likely will be invisible from the ground once the tree is fully leafed out, Garber said. She had suspected larger hawks might be visiting the preserve here, but could never determine which. “The reason, I think, is that the nests are so well hidden in the tops of the trees.”

This year, the new hawk was spotted in the improved nest before the cottonwoods had fully leafed out. Garber said the Swainson’s Hawk spends part of the year in Argentina, some 6,000 miles away, migrating round trip every year. Among raptors, Swainson’s are among the last to arrive in New Mexico in the spring, Garber added.

“During the spring, they feed their young the same things the other raptors feed theirs. They eat lizards, snakes and other birds and small mammals and things like that. But when the grasshoppers bloom in the summer, they switch their diet to almost exclusively grasshoppers. So their nests are generally adjacent to open fields because that’s where they would find the insects they would normally eat. In the fall, when the grasshoppers die, they migrate back to Argentina, leaving here by September."

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: ROMERO ROAD ENTRANCE TO PRESERVE GETS MAKEOVER


Memorial Day weekend visits to the Corrales Bosque Preserve led to restrictions to prevent forest fires and the Fire Department’s lack of access to respond to emergencies. “Over the past several weeks, the Corrales Bosque parking lots at both Siphon Road and Romero Road have been filled with cars, and not all of the people in those cars have been parking in appropriate areas,” The Fire Department’s Tanya Lattin said.

“They have been blocking emergency access gates, the road, and even are parking at ‘No Parking’ signs. This has blocked emergency personnel,  animal control officers and Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District personnel from entering.” The Siphon Road parking area was improved to help eliminate the issues with cars, but people still are not following the rules, she reported. With increased activity, emergency responses have also increased and the responders must be able to get to the area.

Lattin noted that “As we get hotter and drier, we must also be able to get fire personnel in not only to patrol, but to access the bosque if there is a fire. The Corrales police have increased their patrolling of the areas and have issued parking citations, with no improvement in the blocking of the areas.”

The Village has also received reports of gatherings of more than five people from citizens who are out enjoying the preserve as a safe place to maintain physical fitness with appropriate social distancing.   A decision was made May 19 to close the gates to the parking areas at both Siphon Road and Romero Road entrances. The Bosque Preserve itself is not closed.

Vehicles should not be parked at the two areas. Walk, ride your horse, or bicycle to one of the bosque entrances.

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: SANDIA PUEBLO, CORRALES COORDINATE BOSQUE EFFORT


By Scott Manning

The Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission and Sandia Pueblo are in talks to collaborate on bosque maintenance efforts.

According to Fire Chief Anthony Martinez, collaboration between the Village of Corrales and Sandia Pueblo would consist of dialogue between the two parties to coordinate bosque maintenance and to secure more funding.

Martinez has plans for several bosque maintenance projects this year. First, he intends to complete maintenance work on pre-existing fuel breaks in the preserve. This entails removing new plant growth to preserve the integrity of the fuel breaks.
Second, dead trees and vegetation must be removed from the bosque to reduce fire danger and to improve recreation on the hiking trails. This cleared wood is in turn sold to local Pueblos in need. Third, to improve the health of the ecosystem, workers must remove invasive Ravenna grass.

Sandia Pueblo has many of the same concerns to address on the east of the river.  Firefighting efforts during a fire can involve both the Corrales and Sandia Pueblo because a fire on one side of the river could jump the river and spread to the other riverbank. Given these shared interests, Martinez suggests that collaboration with Sandia Pueblo provides a new opportunity for coordinated bosque maintenance efforts.

Collaboration would mainly consist of regular dialogue between the Village of Corrales and Pueblo officials. By improving communication, the parties would be able to coordinate management plans and resources and discuss the effectiveness of bosque maintenance efforts. This kind of coordination would allow all parties involved to maximize their limited resources and limited personnel.

Martinez said that under a collaborative plan Sandia Pueblo and the Village of Corrales would still be responsible for maintenance in their respective regions of the bosque; proponents of the plan only intend to organize efforts, not shift maintenance responsibilities.

A collaborative management plan would also make the parties more competitive for state and federal grants to fund operations. Martinez explained that grants often reward maintenance projects that serve larger regions. By working together, the parties working on bosque maintenance will be eligible for a greater array of federal funding opportunities.

Martinez says that these avenues of funding are critical for bosque maintenance efforts. For the past few years, the village of Corrales has been fortunate to receive yearly funding from New Mexico State Department of Forestry. Some of this funding is allocated to help the Corrales Fire Department perform maintenance and fire prevention in the bosque. For example, this past year workers used funding to test out a tractor to remove Ravenna grass in place of traditional shovel work.

For the collaboration to come to fruition, other groups must be involved in the decision-making process. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District regulates much of the bosque, and any collaborative plan would involve the district. In early 2020 the two parties began initial communication, and Martinez is confident that the village of Corrales will continue to collaborate with Sandia Pueblo. But since March the COVID-19 crisis has stalled collaboration efforts, and the parties will need to reconnect.

Martinez plans to re-connect with Sandia Pueblo over the summer so that the parties can prepare for grant proposals in the fall. No maintenance work can be done during the summer months when birds are nesting, meaning that the fall is also a promising time to begin coordinating maintenance efforts.

Martinez says that the Village has a responsibility to make the preserve safe for Corrales residents and safe for local wildlife in the ecosystem.

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: AARON GJULLIN REPLACES SHANNON FRESQUEZ AS CLERK

Although Mayor Jo Anne Roake declined to explain the departure of former Village Clerk Shannon Fresquez, Aaron Gjullin has been hired to replace her. Gjullin has been assisting Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts over the past two years. He started working at the rec center as a life guard at the pool in 2008. In 2017, he was named head life guard. Gjullin earned a degree at the University of Portland after studying biology and mathematics. In the Portland area, he was general manager of a large farm from 2014 to 2017.

In 2018, he was an administrative assistant in the Village Office. In recent years, he has also managed the Village’s website and other digital media tasks.
He applied for the position of Village Clerk on May 22. At the May 26 Village Council meeting, discussion about Fresquez’s departure was guarded and brief, since it was said to be a personnel matter.

Councillor Kevin Lucero asked for some discussion about the change, saying he was concerned about the rate of turnover in the Village Clerk position. “I want to make sure that none of my comments, in any way, shape or form, are derogatory to Aaron. I know he’s smart and everything about him. These comments are specifically about the Village Clerk.

“For whatever reasons, this particular dismissal has caught a little traction, with me anyway. I’ve had several conversations, some were emails, from around the village who are kinda wondering why the turnover is the way it is.

“I don’t like to see turnover, and probably nobody does, but with this particular position, we have to consider the amount of experience that has left [Village government]. Granted, personnel issues are always very tough and I understand that. I know there may be some issues that can’t be discussed in this forum, but maybe in a closed session,” Lucero added.

“I think it would be appropriate if we at least got everything clarified and out in the open so that I can discuss with people who are coming to me [about the turnover], that we should maybe postpone the approval of the appointment of the Village Clerk upon discussion in a closed session.” Lucero said the discussion should include Village personnel turnover generally. “This has nothing to do with Aaron; I know he’s a smart guy and I’m sure he will do a great job.” Mayor Jo Anne Roake interrupted him. “You should be kinda careful on this issue, okay?”

She asked Village Attorney Randy Autio to join the discussion. He said he understood the mayor’s concern about the discussion Lucero initiated. “Everybody is always concerned about situations like this.” But the mayor’s choice of Gjullin to replace Fresquez is uncomplicated, he said. “Councillors can act with their vote. In other words, you either support the mayor in the person’s appointment or not.”

Lucero ended the discussion by pointing out, “It’s not that I don’t want to support the mayor. I just want to ask some questions that have been posed to me, and maybe not with this particular position, but just in general. It’s just that I would like to get some of this cleared up before we move forward.”
At the vote to approve Gjullin’s appointment to replace Fresquez, Lucero joined in the unanimous assent.

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: SPECIAL SESSION STARTS JUNE 18; FISCAL HURT MAY NOT BE SO BAD


A special session of the N.M. legislature convenes June 18 to address impacts of the pandemic-related economic collapse on the State budget. “At the state level, it’s not as dire as you may think,” State Representative Daymon Ely said May 28. A big part of the discussion will center on grants that may come from the federal government to aid stricken state budgets.

“My concern is not this fiscal year or next fiscal year… it’s the fiscal year after that. The federal delegation is very optimistic that we’re going to get that money. If we’re able to get that support, we will be fine.”

Corrales’ State Representative said in a May 28 virtual “town hall”meeting called by Mayor Jo Anne Roake that N.M. state government is in better shape than neighboring states. “Arizona and Utah are in much worse shape statewide than we are.”

Even so, the House District 23 representative said, local governments could find themselves in dire straits. He said already the City of Santa Fe “is $100 million in the red.”

When State legislators convene later this month they will likely pull back into the State treasury any appropriations from previous sessions that have not already been spent or encumbered. “Money not spent is coming back.

“But the truth is, we put aside a 26 percent reserve. The State has never done that before, not in those kinds of numbers. So roughly $1.9 billion were set aside within the budget that has not been spent. For this fiscal year ending June 30, we’ll be $400 million in the red and a lot of that is going to come back in capital outlay not spent.

“And for next fiscal year, we’re going to do a combination of cutting and using the ‘rainy day’ fund. I think we’ll get there.” Ely said the session may be conducted by Zoom, using interactive computer screens, although the opening day will almost certainly be in person in the Round House. He thought the entire session may be finished within four days.

2020 – JUNE 6 ISSUE: CANDIDATES PREPARE FOR NOVEMBER

With party primary elections behind us, will victors’campaigns leading to November rachet up vicious attacks or adopt the anti-coronavirus refrain “We’re All In This Together?”

Top-of-ticket outcomes were known before polls closed even on the East Coast, so Joe Biden will challenge Donald Trump in the general elections. While primary elections elsewhere around the country captured some Mexicans’ attention, intense focus was on which candidates will face off to take Congressman Ben Ray Lujan’s seat in Washington. And State Senator John Sapien’s seat in the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

In the Democrats’ primary for New Mexico’s Third Congressional District, replacing Lujan, Teresa Leger Fernandez won. In the Republic primary, the race was neck-and-neck with Alexis Johnson and Harry Montoya at midnight.

In the N.M. Senate District 9 race to fill in behind John Sapien, Democrat Brenda McKenna led with more votes than Kevin Lucero and Ben Rodefer. All three are Corrales residents.

In the Republican primary, John Clark bested Bridget Condon and Tania Dennis in late night tallies. For N.M. House District 23, incumbent Democrat Daymon Ely had no challenger, so he will face the Republican winner, Ellis McMath. Similarly, the incumbent in House District 44, Jane Powdrell-Culbert had no challenger. Only one Democrat, Gary Tripp, ran in the primary and only one Libertarian, Jeremy Myers, signed up for that race.

The Sandoval County Commission District 2 race was also a peaceful affair. Incumbent Republican Jay Block had no challenger; nor did Democrat Leah Michelle Ahkee-Baczkiewicz. Running to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for Sandoval County Clerk were Anne Brady-Romero, Bob Perls and Pete Salazar. Ahead at midnight was Brady-Romero, with Salazar and Perls trailing.

The Republican running for County Clerk, Lawrence Griego, had no challenger. In the Sandoval County Treasurer’s race, Democrat Jennifer Taylor led Ronnie Sisneros, while Benay Ward led Carlos Sanchez in the Republican primary.

2020 – JUNE 6 ISSUE: PROSPECTS FOR REOPENING APS SCHOOLS, PROGRAMS


Reopening Albuquerque Public Schools in August will depend on many factors, including an acute need for more school custodians, given the sanitization issues during a pandemic, as well as a lack of school nurses, in many cases.

Revitalizing the state’s economy is dependent in part on parents who cannot work from home, and want their kids back in the classroom.

The New Mexico Public Education Department has convened a School Re-entry Task Force comprised of administrators, students, legislators, educators, parents, public and school health officials, advocates and union and school board personnel, which thus far has met virtually.

Representing APS are Kathy Chavez, executive vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers of New Mexico; Victoria Chavez, parent, Albuquerque Public Schools; Tami Coleman, chief financial officer of Albuquerque Public Schools; Stephanie Ly, president of the American Federation of Teachers of New Mexico; and Jennifer Sanchez, parent, Albuquerque Public Schools.

One of the education department’s first moves is to ask families “to complete an online survey about their experiences with continuous learning during the school closing period triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The department hopes that survey responses will help school districts better meet community needs and aid the task force in shaping plans for reopening public schools. Each survey takes about eight minutes per student to complete.
Use the survey here: https://tripod.sjc1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_08JAHrqU9z7YRvv

Questions focus on “both open and close-ended questions about their child’s level of engagement in school, the family’s level of satisfaction with their school’s expectations and supports, their school’s ability to meet the child’s individual needs, and their communication preferences.”

According to N.M. Education Secretary Ryan Stewart, plans under discussion include in-person instruction, continued distance learning and hybrid options.
He acknowledged that once schools were shut down by the pandemic both families and students were required to work with a “Continuous Learning Plan” of which they had little knowledge.

In support of summer school learning, APS has checked out more than 10,000 Chromebooks to families without a computer at home. APS is continuing to work with several partners on making sure students have access to the internet so they can check in regularly with their teachers and access content as they continue learning at home.

And the district is using operational funds to cover internet costs for families in need. Schools will be reaching out to families that have indicated they need assistance. Families also may contact their child’s school if they need help accessing the internet. The deadline to sign up for Comcast sponsored by APS has been extended to June 30.

Comcast also is providing free Internet for low-income families. New customers get the first two months free. For complete details sign up online at http://www.internetessentials.com/covid19, or call 855-846-8376. Spanish-only speakers can call 855-765-6995.

Secretary Stewart noted that while all involved are aiming for an August school reopening, plans could include “fully returning to campus, partially returning to campus, and transitioning between classroom and distance learning in the event of an outbreak.”

The department hopes that survey responses will help school districts better meet community needs and aid the task force in shaping plans for reopening public schools. Each survey takes about eight minutes per student to complete.
Use the survey here: https://tripod.sjc1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_08JAHrqU9z7YRvv

Questions focus on “both open and close-ended questions about their child’s level of engagement in school, the family’s level of satisfaction with their school’s expectations and supports, their school’s ability to meet the child’s individual needs, and their communication preferences.”

According to N.M. Education Secretary Ryan Stewart, plans under discussion include in-person instruction, continued distance learning and hybrid options.
He acknowledged that once schools were shut down by the pandemic both families and students were required to work with a “Continuous Learning Plan” of which they had little knowledge.

In support of summer school learning, APS has checked out more than 10,000 Chromebooks to families without a computer at home. APS is continuing to work with several partners on making sure students have access to the internet so they can check in regularly with their teachers and access content as they continue learning at home.

And the district is using operational funds to cover internet costs for families in need. Schools will be reaching out to families that have indicated they need assistance. Families also may contact their child’s school if they need help accessing the internet. The deadline to sign up for Comcast sponsored by APS has been extended to June 30.

Comcast also is providing free Internet for low-income families. New customers get the first two months free. For complete details sign up online at http://www.internetessentials.com/covid19, or call 855-846-8376. Spanish-only speakers can call 855-765-6995.

Secretary Stewart noted that while all involved are aiming for an August school reopening, plans could include “fully returning to campus, partially returning to campus, and transitioning between classroom and distance learning in the event of an outbreak.”

2020 – JUNE 6 ISSUE: MAYOR ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR REOPENING FACILITIES

Aligning with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s pandemic reopening strategy, Mayor Jo Anne Roake released a plan to restart the local economy and return to normal operations at Village facilities.

“The Village is committed to helping our government and businesses reopen in a safe, responsible manner, recognizing that public health and safety is always our number one priority. Our goal is to return to normal government and economic activity, when deemed safe to do so, while taking steps to protect the public,” she announced May 15.

Local factors that will be involved in reopening decisions, she said, include:
• The trajectory of positive cases in Sandoval County;
• Statistics of data related to positive cases, particularly as it relates to our ZIP code 87048 and those close to us in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque;
• Current local conditions and the governor's directives; and
• Awareness that many workers come from larger populated areas to work in our businesses and in our government.
She said portable hand washing stations will be installed along Corrales Road for our guests and locals and stand-alone hand sanitizer stations would be available as appropriate.
Roake said the Village will adhere to all current directives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state health officials.
The mayor’s plan urges residents and visitors to wear face coverings, practice social distancing, wash and sanitize hands and limit travel outside home.

Phase one:
• Village personnel will continue to work through modified operational processes currently in place to serve citizens. The Village will follow health and safety and CDC guidelines and protect our employees. Village Hall will continue to be closed to the public. Citizens will be able to conduct business online and by phone.
• Public meetings will continue as defined by the Attorney General guidelines and will be conducted via teleconference.

Phase two:
• Village staff will be back to work but continue to limit public access to our facilities. We will follow the Governor's health orders for safeguarding employees, while continuing to provide services to the public through phone, online, and by email. Certain in-person meetings may also be permitted by appointment only and by following social distancing practices.

Phase three:
• The Village plans to reopen Village Hall, with some modifications to protect visitors and employees from the spread of COVID-19.
People will have to enter the building through the main entry doors, and only two customers will be allowed at the payment and Planning and Zoning areas at a time. There will be no waiting in the lobby area, and overflow waiting will be outside.
• The Village recommends visitors to Village Hall wear gloves and a mask.
•Appointments will be required to meet with Village staff members, and customers are encouraged to utilize online services or mail to conduct business with the Village.
• Public meetings may resume in person.
• B&Bs, phases one and two - no rentals to out of state visitors.
• Parks and Rec, phases one and two - limit gatherings to ten people or less
• Maintain social distancing when allowable
• Benches and other high traffic areas will be sanitized daily
• Outdoor restrooms will be sanitized daily
• Play equipment will remain closed until otherwise stated
• Tennis courts will be limited to four people at a time If full, time limits will be set on players so that others may use the courts. Entrance gate will be sanitized daily
• Liam Knight Pond is not a state park and will be considered as a Parks and Recreation facility. That means it falls under the statement above and will remained closed until allowed to open. When allowed to open: maintain social distancing protocol; benches will be limited to one person each; capacity limits (20 persons); benches will be sanitized daily
• Corrales Swimming Pool: We are unable to get our annual inspection and a permit to operate until the Environmental Department gets approval from the state to resume operation. Until that time, the pool will remain closed. When allowed to open: Limits to capacity (50 persons); Time limit on patrons at the pool facilities (2-hour sessions) ; Glass barriers between patrons and cashier; Social distancing markers for entrance line; Sanitizing measures will be taken in between patron sessions (four times daily); Temperature checks of all patrons entering pool area. Everyone must shower before entering pool
• Robert Bell Skate Park: Maintain social distancing protocol; Benches limited to one person each; Benches and high traffic areas will be sanitized daily
• Corrales Library: Phase one - Starting June 1, 2020, Monday through Friday, 2 to 6 p.m. the library will offer patrons curbside delivery of items on hold. The library remains closed. For online website services see http://www.corraleslibrary.org.

2020 – JUNE 6 ISSUE: JOHN ALSOBROOK DIRECTS MEDICAL RESEARCH LAB

Former Village Councillor John Alsobrook, now director of a medical research laboratory in Seattle, thinks the industry’s rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis will likely set the stage for how future pandemics are addressed.

In a telephone interview with Corrales Comment May 30, Alsobrook said he has been very impressed with how rapidly the scientific community produced results to protect the public here and around the world against invasion by the novel coronavirus.

Anyone in the medical research community “who could switch gears to focus on COVID did, and has continued to do so. “This really speaks to why we have to maintain research budgets for the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation,” he said. “All of this basic research is there as a body of knowledge, and you never know what is going to happen that will make you go back to that knowledge.”

The Adaptive Biotechnologies lab at which he works continues to focus primarily on the human body’s response to cancer cells, particularly leukemia. The basic idea is to learn from the body’s adaptive immune system how to detect and battle invaders. But given the current pandemic, Alsobrook explained, the firm also is collaborating with Microsoft “to decode the immune system’s response to COVID-19” and possibly develop a more sensitive diagnostic method.

A second strategy is collaborating with Amgen, a pharmaceutical company, to use Adaptive Technologies’ capabilities to “develop potential anti-body therapies for COVID-19.” His firm has committed to make its findings freely available to all researchers around the world through its “ImmuneCODE” project.

Alsobrook explained that the term “adaptive” refers to a specialized type of white blood cell in the body which “learns” and adapt to new situations.” He thinks society should expect other pandemics in the future. “I’m certainly not an ‘end times’ or doomsday person, but I think we will see more of this kind of thing. I think it’s bound to happen, mainly because… it’s a small world. There is more and more physical mixing due to travel more than anything else.”

Alsobrook hopes science’s response to the pandemic will set a precedent for future collaborations. “It is precedent-setting and really sets the stage for how we react when something like this happens in the future.

“So many places came out rapidly with diagnostic tests. although unfortunately there were some bad actors. Certainly big drug companies always have their bottom line in mind, so they rarely do things for free. But a vaccine is not a big money maker. Yet so many have turned their resources to that, saying they’re ready to turn out a billion doses —that’s pretty amazing.

“And so many in the research community have turned and collaborated, because usually there’s a spirit of friendly competition among academic scientists. It has become more of a collaborative spirit.

“I think that will prepare us for something like this in the future. We will look back on this time and say ‘Yeah, this is the right way to respond.’” The scientific and technical capabilities with ongoing improvements should allow this kind of rapid-response, he said. “All it takes is for us to decide is that this is the thing we want to take care of. It takes some leadership to point us in that direction, but then it’s amazing what we can do.

“Look at what we’ve accomplished in a really short period of time… so what can we really get done.” After five years as a bio-medical research scientist at the Yale Medical School, John Alsobrook jumped into the burgeoning gene-focused bio-tech industry in 2000, getting more involved in the management of medical research projects.

In 2005, he was hired as “director of discovery” for the Albuquerque-based Exagen Diagnostics firm. He moved his family into a home on Corrales’ Coronado Road in spring 2006. Alsobrook was something of a science prodigy; he graduated from high school at 15, while taking university courses in symbolic logic, psychology and meteorology.

In college, he was funded with a National Science Foundation fellowship to “design molecules to detoxify heavy metals.” He finished his degree in bio-chemistry in 1981 still not sure what field of science he wanted to pursue.

So he enrolled for another bachelor’s degree in physics at Cal State-Los Angeles. In 1985 he headed to Yale University for a doctorate bestowed in 1995. His dissertation was on genetic links to obsessive-compulsive disorders. While working for the Albuquerque medical research firm, he ran for a seat on the Village Council in 2008, serving two terms.

Funding medical research in a private corporation is risky, he pointed out. “There are probably 100 different companies that are working on a vaccine, or a diagnostic or a therapeutic. We’ll see which ideas come to the fore and which can be sustained and have the impact we’re looking for.’

That research activity was sparked largely by a ruling from the federal Food and Drug Administration which relaxed standards for rigorous testing before use on humans. “Now they’re saying you can start using them as long as you say you did the right stuff, and you show it to us later. So look at what happened, just last week. The FDA pulled 27 different tests off the market that were being used for COVID because the tests didn’t perform well, or the companies didn’t follow up with the data.”

Alsobrook said he has been somewhat amazed by response from the general public to the pandemic. “It’s amazing that people will find any reason to spark controversy… masks or not masks, you name it.

“But people can have a lot of confidence in the science that’s being done. I’m seeing what lots of other scientists and companies are doing. But the wild card in any infectious disease outbreak is the social side. Someone is saying that requiring them to wear a mask abridges their freedom; it’s fine to think what you want to think about that independently. ‘I don’t want to wear a mask. Should I really? What is really the truth about a mask?’

“So then we get into these weird areas about what is truth and social media and fake news. But what I would say is that generally with scientists in this day and age, there’s no hidden agenda.

“It’s true that scientists, like everybody else, want to keep their jobs. But for scientists, it’s because they love what they do. To spend as much time as they do in training and learning how to do these things, they do it because it’s what they love to do. There’s a certain amount of faith and integrity that goes with that.
“So for me, it’s interesting how people decide what they want to question.”

2020 JUNE 6 ISSUE: UPPER MEADOWLARK CONTRACT DISPUTE NEARS RESOLUTION


The wide shoulders of upper Meadowlark Lane have sat cleared and presumably ready for construction of bike paths and horse trails (as envisioned, and re-envisioned) more than a decade ago. Those components of the over all plan were bumped to a later phase as the driving lanes with medians and integrated drainage features were constructed last year.

But Village officials have been engaged in a protracted dispute with the contractor who took on the job. Village Administrator Ron Curry, who inherited the troubled project last summer, said May 8 that the matter should be resolved no later than next month.

Curry has maintained the second phase with trails should not be started until the first phase is completed and disputes resolved. Earlier this year, Curry said the stormwater drainage features have not been connected to the area where collected water would be ponded along Loma Larga.

He has said getting satisfactory closure on the first phase is important to avoid the Village of Corrales paying for completion or remediating flaws left by the contractor.
For months now, the Village Administrator has voiced optimism that the dispute could be resolved soon. At the mayor’s town hall teleconference event May 28, Curry said “We are in contact every day with our attorneys as of late and we are still trying to come to closure on it.

“We’re exchanging paperwork on it right now and we feel the Village is in the right position, but it’s not resolved yet.

“If I’m being optimistic, it will be resolved in the next two to three weeks. If I’m being pessimistic, it could go on for another 90 to 120 days.” Councillor Dave Dornberg, who lives along West Meadowlark and represents the area on the council, asked for an update on the project at the June 16 council meeting.

Earlier this year, Curry said he anticipates that another round of public comment and brainstorming will be needed to begin a second phase for the bike and horse trails. The project is not just stalled, it is essentially out the window. What the objectives will be when and if it resumes is still to be determined. When the proposal began more than a decade ago, its primary goal was to construct a bike path connecting Corrales to Rio Rancho along upper Meadowlark.

That was funded by the Mid-Region Council of Governments, but Village officials turned the money back when upper Meadowlark residents objected that funding was insufficient to address anticipated stormwater drainage problems into their adjacent property.

In 2016, the Village was ready to hire an engineer to design the over all project including trails from Loma Larga to the Rio Rancho boundary. The project funded through the Mid-Region Council of Governments and the N.M. Department of Transportation (NMDOT) was to realign and rebuild upper Meadowlark to include bicycle paths and horse trails as well as improved drainage and traffic safety features. (See Corrales Comment, Vol.XXXIII, No.3, March 22, 2014 “Upper Meadowlark To Get Improved Drainage.”)

But only the driving lanes and drainage features actually got underway, since the engineering work ran into a problem with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The N.M. Department of Transportation refused to approve Corrales; design for the bicycle-pedestrian path along the north side of the road because the terrain was so steep at the top of Corrales portion of Meadowlark.

That design obstacle was never overcome. So that’s where prospects for the bike trail and horse path ended. Curry has said the Village may have to find its own funds to complete the project, bypassing the need to comply with ADA.

In September 2013, the consulting firm hired to suggest ways to improve upper Meadowlark Lane, Architectural Research Consultants, called for bike riders to use the same downhill driving lane as autos, or divert to the future pedestrian path along the south side of the re-configured roadway.

Appearing before the mayor and Village Council at their September 10, 2013 meeting, the firm’s Steve Burstein presented a revised “Option A” that showed a five-foot wide bike lane adjacent to the westbound driving lane, while eastbound bike riders would be expected to come down in the same regular traffic lane used by motor vehicles.

If cyclists did not want to “take the lane” with regular traffic coming down hill, they would be encouraged to bike along the proposed pedestrian path along the south side of Meadowlark.

Among the advantages of that revised plan, cyclists using the bike paths along the Rio Rancho section of Meadowlark Lane would have a continuous connection to designated routes coming down into Corrales. Downhill bike riders would be informed to merge with regular vehicle traffic, or veer off onto the pedestrian trail.
Then-Mayor Phil Gasteyer said he thought the revised recommendation would be “much more acceptable to the whole neighborhood.”

Some residents along the north side of upper Meadowlark had objected to routing both uphill and downhill bike riders to a future path on the north side of the road. They said they feared pulling into the path of fast bike riders as they left their driveways and tried to enter traffic.

In that plan, downhill cyclists would use the eastbound driving lane or use the proposed pedestrian path along the south side of the road. The change was endorsed by the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission as well, following communications with Burstein and his planners.

At that point, the plans were almost purely hypothetical since no funds had been allocated to tackle the re-make of upper Meadowlark, estimated subsequently at $1.18 million.

2020-JUNE 6 ISSUE: DRAFT REPORT ON COST OF NM ‘UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE’ PLAN


The Health Security for New Mexicans plan, driven primarily by Corrales’ Mary Feldblum over decades, has finally received rigorous financial analysis. Commissioned by the N.M. Legislative Finance Committee in 2019, a draft report was released May 22 to lay out what the anticipated economic impacts would be over the first five years if the universal health care system is implemented. Written comments on the draft report are due June 8. The final report is expected by the end of this month.

The fiscal analysis was contracted out to KNG Health Consulting, IHS Markit and Reynis Analytics. While KNG is based in the Washington DC area and IHS is headquartered in London, Reynis Analytics is led by Albuquerque’s Lee Reynis, former director of the N.M. Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

“If implemented, the Health Security Act would be the most ambitious state-based health reform ever carried out in the United States,” the report states. Feldblum’s Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign has won support for the plan from municipal and county governments around the state. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVII No.20 January 5, 2019 ‘Health Security Act’ Could Pass N.M. Legislature.”)

The Health Security Act would enable the state to set up its own health insurance plan to ensure universal coverage. Proponents say it would provide comprehensive, quality services, fully protect those with pre-existing conditions and offer freedom of choice of health care providers, regardless of network.

In an emailed newsletter May 28, Feldblum said her organization has “some serious concerns about the report’s technical integrity.” In a statement May 31, she clarified, “The report makes numerous assumptions in order to come up with its financial projections. Several of these assumptions differ from what is specified in the Health Security Act. In addition, there are serious mathematical errors that need to be corrected.”

The statement points to “a critical discrepancy of over $3 billion in the preliminary draft report.” That discrepancy appears in two tables of numbers showing amounts for total health care spending on benefits and administration if the program were implemented in New Mexico. One of the tables states the amount for 2024 would be $12.3 billion, while the other table shows$9.2 billion for the same sum.

The chairman of Health Security for New Mexicans, Max Bartlett, pointed out that with the state’s existing health care system today, the amount is $12.1 billion. “The accompanying text provides no explanation for this enormous discrepancy, resulting in a major difference in the projected costs of the program,” Barlett said.

The draft report’s introduction points out that “Under the Health Security Plan (HSP,) the state’s uninsured rate would likely fall well below one percent, and the vast majority of the population would receive coverage through a public insurance program. The plan would also improve health care affordability for low- and middle-income families that would otherwise receive coverage through the non-group market.

“Over the initial five-year period, the overall economic impact of the HSP is expected to be small. However, the role for private insurance would be diminished, and some segments of the private insurance market would likely disappear altogether.” While use of health care services would increase if the plan were implemented, “long-term total health care spending could fall if reductions in payer-side administrative costs are achieved to the level specified in the Health Security Act.

Most of the cost of the HSP could be financed by re-directing public funding from duplicative health programs, requiring contributions from employers not offering coverage, and requiring enrollees with the means to pay a portion of their own premium costs. Still, significant additional funding sources would likely be needed to fully cover the cost of the plan.”

A summary of key findings produced by the analysis reads as follows. “In this study, we examined the cost of the HSP under different scenarios and whether existing revenues would be sufficient to cover the cost of the plan. Under our base model, we assumed premium costs similar to a typical employer plan, where employees are only responsible for a relatively small share of premium costs.  We assumed that low-income individuals would pay no premiums, similar to their premium costs under Medicaid or Marketplace coverage. Employers whose employees received coverage under the HSP would pay into the plan so that total payments from employers match their contributions under baseline. Although we assumed significant reductions in costs to administer the program (such that total program spending is less than baseline in the last year), we found that the HSP would be underfunded by approximately $1.5 billion a year in the first five years of the program.

“In addition to our base model, we examined several other scenarios, including ones where the program is fully funded either through contributions from participating employers or a tax levied on all firms. In these two scenarios, the program is fully funded but costs would increase for firms.

“We considered a less generous cost-sharing scenario where we assumed premiums and cost-sharing (e.g., coinsurance, deductibles) would be similar to the limits established in the ACA Marketplaces. The HSP would be under-funded, but by less than in our base model. Excluding Medicaid enrollees would not significantly impact the funding shortfall, although it could affect the potential payer and provider administrative savings.

“In general, we found relatively small economic impacts from the HSP, with impacts going from slightly positive in the first year to slightly negative in the fifth year. These small effects are due to the fact that by year five, the HSP would leave health care spending relatively unchanged because administrative savings offset higher spending for health care services.

“While overall economic impacts are small, the private insurance industry and its employees would see significant negative impacts as private insurance in the state would be greatly reduced. The private health insurance industry is a source of employment for several thousand workers in New Mexico. The HSP would limit the role of private insurers as insurance coverage and associated administrative activities for the HSP are done by the state.

As a result, many workers in this industry would likely lose their jobs. While resources currently being devoted towards insurance administration could be redirected towards other productive economic activities, including additional public administrative duties necessary for the operation of HSP, the HSP could produce financial hardship to New Mexican families and businesses associated with the private insurance industry. “In the long term, if administrative costs are compliant with the five percent cap established by the HSA, we estimated that health care spending would be lower by year 5 of the plan than under the baseline.

“While lower long-term health care spending would have a negative economic impact on the state, lower health care costs due to lower administrative spending could benefit employers and New Mexicans. With lower health care spending, employers and individuals could spend more on other goods and services that may yield increases in New Mexicans’ welfare.

“While our economic analysis assumed that budget shortfalls as a result of the HSP would be closed through a tax or similar mechanisms, HSP funding could be enhanced through establishing higher premiums. Using higher premiums to help fund the HSP could be economically beneficial in the long run as compared to taxing payroll, which could impact productivity. However, higher premiums could run counter to the goals of affordable health care coverage under the HSP.” The draft report considers how continuation of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would affect implementation of the Health Security Plan.

“Our results assumed that the ACA and associated federal funding will continue to be available to the state, which is significant. Under the ACA, the Federal Medicaid Matching Rate applied for newly eligible adults under Medicaid expansion is 90 percent for 2020 and beyond. In addition, the ACA provides for federal financial assistance to those eligible on the Marketplace. Together, these federal assistance programs contribute an estimated $2.1 billion to New Mexico. If the ACA was repealed and not replaced with a similar program, the costs of the HSP to New Mexico would be significantly higher.”

The fiscal analysts’ conclusion are stated this way. “Our analysis finds that the HSP would create near-universal health insurance coverage in New Mexico. The plan would also improve health care affordability for low- and middle-income families that would otherwise receive coverage through the non-group market.

“Usage of health care services would increase, but total health care spending would fall due to reductions in payer-side administrative costs. Most of the cost of the HSP could be financed by redirecting public funding from duplicative health programs, requiring contributions from employers not offering coverage, and requiring enrollees with means to pay a portion of their own premium costs. Still, significant additional funding sources would likely be needed to fully cover the cost of the program.”

County governments that have called for passage of the act include Bernalillo, Sandoval, Cibola, Valencia, Doña Ana, Grant, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Los Alamos, Luna, Mora, Otero, Rio Arriba and Taos, among others.

Municipal governments endorsing the bill are: Corrales, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Bayard, Belen, Carlsbad, Deming, Ft. Sumner, Grants, Hatch, Las Vegas, Los Alamos, Los Lunas, Mesilla, Roswell, Taos and Silver City. More than 36 N.M. municipal and county governments have passed resolutions supporting the Health Security Act.

In the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign statement May 31, Bartlett said the $3 billion discrepancy in charts accompanying the report “calls into question the reliability of the basic methodology used by KBG. Every number they produce relies on what they term ‘microsimulation’ modeling.

“We have two basic concerns with their approach. First, the text of the report does not clearly specify how any of the data presented in the two critical tables is actually generated. Their model functions effectively as a mysterious ‘black box.’

“Second, we believe that a macroeconomic overview must be included in order to project accurately the impact of a system-changing approach such as Health Security. Their exclusively microsimulation approach is better suited to projecting changes and modifications that occur within one over-arching system, such as our current employer-based, private insurance system.

“The Health Security Act is designed to eliminate reliance on that system, replacing it with a system that places about 84 percent of New Mexicans in one large, public health pool where everyone shares risk equally.”

2020-JUNE 6 ISSUE: 12-ACRE TRACT HEADED FOR CONSERVATION EASEMENT


Purchase of a conservation easement on 12 acres of farmland at the north end of Corrales is expected to be approved at the June 16 Village Council meeting. Exactly which tract would be preserved in perpetuity as farmland or green belt open space was not identified as of June 1.

“I would prefer not to identify the property or owner yet since the deal isn’t done and neither party has 100 percent committed,” said Michael Scisco of Unique Places LLC who is negotiating the arrangement. “But I can say that it is a 12-acre property on the north side of Corrales, and will use up a little under half of the available bond funding.

“The property will have a public wildlife viewing platform looking over the irrigation portions of the farm.” At the Village Council teleconference meeting May 26, Mayor Jo Anne Roake said a recommendation on the transaction from the Corrales Farmland Preservation and Agriculture Commission will be considered at the June 16 session.

Corrales voters approved $2.5 million in general obligation bonds for farmland preservation in March 2018. This will be the first use of the new round of GO bonds; villagers’ first bonds to save farmland from development, also for $2.5 million, were approved in 2004. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXIII No. 14 September 11, 2004 “Corrales Approves Bonds to ‘Save Farmlands’ By 5-to1 Margin.”)

With the new easement, Corrales will have about 50 acres protected. The first such easement established was a private transaction by Jonathan Porter in 2001 on six acres at the south end of the Corrales Valley. At the May 26 council meeting, the Village’s bond counsel, Jill Sweeney, said funds from the GO bond sale should be available in August.

Scisco said May 27 that he hopes to be able to purchase other conservation easements with the remainder of the $2.5 million by the end of 2021.”We have a few other projects in development, but they are nowhere near ready for prime time, and with COVID, it has slowed everything down. We are lucky to have the one project to work on during these times.”

Applications from Corrales landowners to take advantage of the remaining bond money are still being accepted at the Village Office. Twelve acres of prime soil east of the Wagner family’s corn maze at the north end of the valley went on the real estate market back in 2017. When a realtor’s “for sale” sign went up on the Trosello tract north of Alary Farm in early February that year, it produced a flurry of concerned conversation, community determination and strategizing.

Since then, members of the Corrales Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission have discussed with the landowners options for bringing at least part of that 30-acre tract under conservation easement.

The children and grandchildren of Gus and Arlene Wagner have expressed interest in the Trosello tract which they have leased and cultivated for nearly 40 years. Jim Wagner told Corrales Comment February 16, 2017 he would like to acquire the entire acreage and put a conservation easement on it. He noted the 12 acres then on the market were just phase one of the proposal to convert it all to home sites. He said retaining that tract as farmland would be a great asset, not just for Corrales, but for the larger metropolitan area. “It is really good fertile soil, and it has good irrigation from the river water. It makes good food!”

Wagner said Corrales had recently lost another tract of good farmland to developers. He was trying to buy the seven-acre tract just north of the Trosello land, the Gruber property, but RayLee Homes bought it instead. Lisa Brown, co-chair of the Farmland Preservation Commission, can be contacted by email at lisadb@q.com.

The drive to save the Trosello tract should appeal not just to people who support local agriculture, she said, but to those who value open space, bird watching, wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, including trail links into the Bosque Preserve.

In 2004, Corrales became the first municipality in the state to approve general obligation bonds specifically to fund farmland preservation. Proceeds from the sale of those bonds were used as the local match for grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program helped bring more than 34 acres of farmland here under conservation easement, including the outright purchase of 5.5 acres of the Gonzales farm field west of Wells Fargo Bank. In 2010, a new, presumably permanent source of funding for farmland preservation efforts was created by the N.M. Legislature.

Then-Governor Bill Richardson signed into law the 2010 Natural Heritage Conservation Act which was seen as an effective tool in Corrales’ efforts to save farmland for agricultural use rather than letting it go to home sites. It could also have helped fund historic preservation efforts here.

“Under the Natural Heritage Conservation Act that I signed today, New Mexico for the first time will have a permanent mechanism for funding conservation projects across the state,” the governor said. “I am also pleased that we were able to secure nearly $5 million for restoration projects and conservation easements, so we will be able to start funding these important initiatives right away.”

Corrales has not applied for grants from that initial funding.

2020 – June 6 ISSUE: ABQ RE-OPENING

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and his team have put together COVID-19 Phase One re-opening documents similar to those recently wrestled into shape by Corrales Mayor Jo Anne Roake. And some of the material included should interest Corraleños.

For one, the Cultural Services Department is creating “Summer Camp at Home” activity kits, to be distributed beginning about May 24. The APS school year ended May 22. The kits will be created by the Albuquerque Museum, BioPark, and Balloon Museum. The Public Library is also planning a completely digital summer reading program.

The Open Space Visitors’ Center on Coors re-opened on May 19, subject to occupancy limits set by the State. Its new hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

COVID Safe Practices signs are strategically posted throughout facility, and Parks and Recreation is limiting the number of people in the building to 25 at a time. No groups larger than five may be inside, and everyone must wear a mask. Volunteers are allowed to return to assist with garden maintenance.

The Albuquerque BioPark will open to the public at a limited capacity with physical distancing, engineering controls, administrative controls and cloth masks for all on June 2, if state limitations allow. During the first week, only members will be allowed in.The BioPark will open to the general public on June 9. Timed ticketing with 300 tickets will be available per hour at the zoo, estimated possibly 25 percent capacity. Three hundred tickets will be available per hour at the Botanic Gardens, open seven hours per day. The staff will shepherd visitors in an organized flow and disrupt any potential mass gatherings. Admission prices may be reduced to reflect these changes. All indoor spaces will remain closed, including the aquarium. Notably, the BioPark estimates it will need $50,000 in additional support per month, since it has lost 75 percent of its revenue from closures and other limitations this calendar year.

The Albuquerque Public Library will open to the public at a limited capacity June 2, if the State permits. This follows one week of staff training prior to re-opening, focused on infectious disease control. The public will not be able to use computers, nor will seating be available. Sanitation stations and supplies will be readily available everywhere, and staff will clean on an hourly basis.

Customers may access physical collections, and returned items will be quarantined for a time based on expert opinion, between 24-72 hours. Ernie Pyle Library and Special Collections Library will remain closed.

Museums will open to the public June 2, if State limitations allow, at a limited capacity with physical distancing, and cloth masks required. The first week will be for members only, and museums will open to the general public on June 9. Museum stores will open for limited visitors.

Vinyl markers will be placed on the floor to space visitors, with customer barriers installed at the cashier desk. There will be no public or docent guided tours, or public programs or in-person classes. Exhibits and surfaces will be disinfected a minimum of four times per day. Explora will re-open to 25 percent capacity, or 50 people per hour. Staff will monitor interior traffic flow and adjust as needed.

COLUMN: PARA LOS CABALLOS

By Steve Komadina
Truth versus Opinion with Horses
I am impressed daily that all that I say and hear is opinion. That is true in medicine and religion and politics and nutrition. We are surrounded by opinion and then find our own “truth.” That brings us to horses, horse ownership and feeding, training, tacking and all aspects of animal husbandry. The world of horses is just as saturated with opinion as any other aspect of your life.

Each horse person listens and reads and observes and tries until they find which opinion makes sense and works in their hands to some level of success. Why doesn’t a horse come with an owner’s manual, with all the magic secrets to success in dealing with this big animal? But they do not. To complicate things further, we were never taught “Horse” as a second language. If lucky, we took horseback riding lessons, but that was perhaps the wrong place to start in this horse person relationship. Could riding be the reward you get for doing all the pre-riding preparation for the horse as well as for you? For most of us, riding came first and then we worked our way back to the preparation and the communication with the horse that prepares it for our ride.

There are serious horse people and casual horse people. Corrales is filled with lots of the serious people. To them, the relationship with this living breathing hunk of muscle and bone and brain is close to a spiritual experience. True love grows and is nurtured through joint respect and sharing of good human horse interactions. The majority of these people make no money as a result of their horse involvement. It truly is a labor of love financed somehow by other means.

Like religion and politics, horse people become passionate and protective of their opinions in regards to their horse and relationship. Hence it is very difficult to give advice to a horse person. They become very defensive and feel you are being judgmental with any questions or suggestions made toward them and their steed. We must also recognize the many challenges of trying to teach an adult vs a child. As adults, the fear of being wrong or judged is very intimidating. Many of us just want to go hide and “work” on our problem out of public view. Hence the popularity of auditing clinics or private horse lessons vs group lessons.

Now, everything I have written is my opinion and may be wrong. It is based on my observations of horsemen over the years in a variety of settings… trail rides, lessons, seminars, horse shows, etc. My plea today is for all us Corrales horse people to not be judgmental. Let us be kind in our comments and to be truly a friend when interacting with other horse people. Likewise, don’t wear your feelings on your shoulder, and be observant and teachable always to be a better person for your horse. I have so much more opinion to share but I have a “Horse” language lesson in ten minutes and need to get out to the pasture. See you on the trail.

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